Friday, October 31, 2014

2014 Leaf Metal Draft Baseball - All the Dodger Cards

After going through the entire 2014 Baseball season Leaf finally puts out a set Dodger collectors would be interested in.  Earlier this month they released their 2014 Leaf Metal Draft Baseball set, and it includes a couple of the Dodgers brightest young prospects.  Go here to see an entire checklist.

From what I can tell, only two Dodgers made the cut for Leaf.  They are Darnell Sweeney and Grant Holmes.  As you may know, Sweeney was the Dodgers 13th round pick in 2012, and has been very impressive.  Right now the infielder is playing the AFL and is hitting the cover off the ball.  BTW, the Darnell Sweeney card is his very first to be found in packs of cards.  Grant Holmes was the Dodgers 1st round pick in 2014 and recently completed his first year of professional Baseball.  He appeared to struggle a bit when he advanced from the AZL Dodgers to the Ogden Raptors, but continued striking out batters at a healthy clip.  Overall, Holmes pitched 48.1 innings, struck out 58 batters and had a 1.076 WHIP. 

Check out their cards below. As always there are numerous parallel cards available.  Here is a listing: Silver Prismatic, Blue Prismatic #/50 or less, Purple Prismatic #/25 or less, Green Prismatic #/10 or less, Red Prismatic #/5 or less, Gold Prismatic 1/1.

Base Autograph Cards

BA-DS2 Darnell Sweeney                    BA-GH1 Grant Holmes

Also available in packs are Leaf are 'Buyback' cards featuring autographs of several former Dodgers.  Check them out below.  Unfortunately, a complete checklist of available 'Buybacks' has not yet been made available by Leaf, so the listing below may not be complete.  If you are aware of more please let me know.

Leaf Memories Buyback Autographs

 1991 Leaf - John Candelaria (#/45)               1992 Leaf - Roger McDowell (#/13)

BTW, I recently won a Holmes and Candelaria cards on eBay.  So, I'll be sharing those soon.  And I'm eager to add the McDowell since he'd be so fun to write about.  He might be the biggest goofball to ever put on a Dodger uniform.

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Blog Kiosk: 10/31/2014 - Dodger Links - Adrian Gonzalez is a Master with the Glove and Logan White Wanted the Challenge

I just can't stop laughing at this photo shared by @Dodger_History on twitter. Awesome!

Below are some links to check out:
  • Adrian Gonzalez has been the named the 2014 Fielding Bible Gold Glove Award winner for 1st baseman in the Major Leagues.  Check out their website with the announcement here.  The Fielding Bible Award has nothing to do with religion.  Instead, it features 10 sabermetrically geared journalist and bloggers voting on the best defensive infielders in the game.  Here is what they said about Gonzalez:
“Adrian Gonzalez has been the best defensive first baseman in baseball over the last six seasons but somehow he has never won a Fielding Bible Award. Until now. Gonzalez wins his first Fielding Bible Award, leading all of baseball's first basemen by saving 11 runs defensively for the Dodgers in 2014. That brings his six-year total to 62 runs saved, 12 more than Albert Pujols’ second-place total of 50. Every aspect of Gonzalez's defensive game is superb. He fields his position well, does a great job with difficult throws, and handles bunts and double plays with the best of them. But he's not flashy. Just consistently excellent.”
"I couldn't pass it up," White said on Wednesday. "Andrew was such a class act through all of this. As I told him, with the timing, in a different time and a different place, I think that we would have worked great together. And I have so much respect for [Dodgers president and CEO] Stan Kasten. I would not have left the Dodgers for any other job.
So in other words, it came down to Logan wanting to tackle a new challenge.
  • Via Bill Plunkett at the OC Register, "Former Dodgers up for Hall of Fame review."  A special committee will look at the candidacy of Maury Wills and Gil Hodges.  Wills is being considered for the first time.  BTW, I almost feel like they should just stop doing this because seeing Hodges get slighted again is just torture.  The Baseball Hall of Fame has a story on this with biographical information on everybody that you can check out here.
  • Via JP Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers, "Hanley Ramirez headlines list of Dodgers’ free agents."
  • Dodger Blues puts it all into perspective.  Doh!

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    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    Dan Haren to Remain a Dodger - Will Exercise 2015 Option

    At least the #4 man in the Dodgers 2015 rotation is figured out, for now.  Via a tweet from OC Register reporter Bill Plunkett, we find out that starting pitcher Dan Haren has already notified the team that he will be exercising the player option in his contract.

    Haren had recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his non-pitching shoulder a couple of weeks ago, so this news is hardly surprising.  Even with the surgery taking place on his off-shoulder you would have to think he'd have a tough time equaling the $10Mil salary. 

    Overall, Dan Haren had an average season filled with moments of brilliance.  He was an innings eater (pitching 186 innings) who continued to strike out opponents at ratio that was a little better than four to one.  Haren went 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA in 32 starts. 

    In two games he gave up just one hit in seven innings.  In fifteen games he gave up two earned runs or less.  To start the 2014 season he went 5-1 in eight starts and had a 2.84 ERA.  Over his last ten starts of the season, he went 5-2 with a 2.43 ERA, and had only one really bad start during that period.  Over that stretch opposing batters hit just .191 against him.  So, he finished strong.

    I can't be unhappy with this development.  Dan Haren provides some veteran leadership in a position that requires him to pitch a lot of innings and provide some decent starts.  By all accounts he does just that.

    In commemoration of Haren's decision to stay Blue I made the above fantasy card for him.  I used a photograph taken by Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014 during Spring Training and used the 1971 Topps Baseball card design.

    Below are his career statistics, via Baseball-Reference:

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    Check Out Some Great AAGPBL Press Photos at Hake's

    I love vintage press photos, and there's nothing better than oddball photos of the game you love.

    Shown here are pics from a lot of eleven news service 'Spielmacher Photos' of the Grand Rapids Chicks of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League available for sale at Hake's Auctions.  On Tuesday I shared some pics of some Dodger memorabilia available at this auction.  Go here to check out that post

    Made famous when the movie 'A League of Their Own' arrived in theaters in 1992, the AAGPBL offered women's professional Baseball from 1943 to 1954 throughout the mid-West.  Games featured the ladies playing hardball on the diamond, and they proved to many that they could play the game too... And played it well... Very well. 

    As for memorabilia or relics from this league, well they are basically nonexistent.  You rarely come across game-used material, and forget about game day programs and knickknacks.  If anything like that appears on the market you should expect to pay more than you might expect.

    So, seeing these items here is a huge pleasure. 

    Per the auction description:
    c. 1940s. Includes 16 A-AGPBL team members in uniforms posing for photo on steps, six members in uniform in dugout w/hands over heart during national anthem, Connie Wisniewski pitching, center fielder and side arm pitcher Pat Keagle in close-up poses and field action shots.

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    Watch a Behind the Scenes Video of the SI Photo Shoot with Kershaw and Kopitar

    As you'll recall, the western region October 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated featured LA's biggest stars in both Baseball and hockey - Clayton Kershaw and Anze Kopitar.  Check out the cover above.

    Now you can watch a behind the scenes video of that photo shoot at Dodger Stadium, courtesy of KingsVision.  It's from the Kings perspective, so Clayton doesn't speak.  But we do learn something I didn't know previously about him.  Apparently, Kershaw played a little bit of hockey in high school.  Who'd a thunk it?

    Video Link:

    BTW, I might actually start believing in that SI curse.  Not only did Clayton Kershaw have a terrible Ooctober when this issue was released, but Anze Kopitar has had a bad start to the Kings season.  In the eight games he's played so far Kopi has only recorded three points.  Furthermore, he was injured in a game this past Sunday with an undisclosed upper-body injury.  He missed the following Tuesday's game in Philadelphia that resulted in the Kings having to play one man down the whole game (due to cap related issues).  It is currently unknown when he'll return to the ice.  Oy Vie!

    Hat Tip: @LAKingsPR on twitter:

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    Blog Kiosk: 10/30/2014 - Dodger Links - Congrats...

    There's not much to add to the photo shown above.  It is one of Dodger photographer Barney Stein's greatest pieces of work, and it unmistakably conveys the feeling of loss, pain and sorrow.  This was the picture I had stuck in my mind when I finally came to the realization that the Giants had once again taken home the crown, and that I, like Ralph Branca in the photo above and many thousands of Dodger fans today, have to accept the notion that we have to wait 'til next year.

    Fortunately, I know that soon after that fateful home run some 63 years ago a Jesuit Priest was able to put Branca's mind at peace by putting it in the proper perspective, and I take solace in knowing that it applies today.  Our faith is strong enough to endure what we have to face tomorrow.  So with that, I extend my hand in congratulations to this years victors.

    Congrats, Giants.  You have no doubt built a dynasty worthy of the most hallowed halls of Baseball.

    All I can add at this point is thank goodness that there will be another season - unless the zombies come, in which case I'll be grabbing my red handled machete in hopes of finding that cappuccino sipping hipster lookalike Terminite up north. Oh... And thank goodness for Kings hockey.

    Below are some links to check out:
    But strength and character are not limited to one team per season. it’s not zero-sum. That the Dodgers fell short does not mean they are empty, bereft. Their season was not without meaning. And any idea that the Dodgers couldn’t win because of such and such a person is emphatically ridiculous.

    I have no doubt that if you restarted the 2014 MLB playoffs with the same participants, they would yield a different result.

    The World Series is absolutely the grand prize, the holy grail. The Dodgers’ goal, from the top of the organization to the bottom, from the clubhouse to the front office, was nothing less. Elimination was, and still is, a gut punch. My acceptance of tonight’s result is simply acceptance of the hole in my stomach.
    As truly horrible parts of American history are, now one of the great things about America is that it's a melting pot of many different cultures. Major League Baseball is a tremendous example of this. You can't find a single team in the MLB that doesn't have a player who originated outside the country. I love that.

    To say something like Zeb did is just so completely ignorant it's shocking.

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Joe Maddon Was Never Going to be the Dodger Manager

    Jon Heyman at CBS Sports broke some big MLB news just a moment ago.  He has reported on twitter that the Cubs will hire Joe Maddon to be their next manager.

    Per Heyman's story at CBS Sports:
    The Cubs deny that a deal is done, but people familiar with the dealings say that it is certain to be completed in coming days, and that Maddon would indeed be the next Cubs manager.

    The contract, once finalized, is expected to make Maddon one of the highest-paid managers in baseball and quite likely the best-paid in the National League. Mike Scioscia's Angels deal pays him $5 million annually, so he sets the standard.
    I would expect, keeping Bud Selig's desire to keep the games focus on the World Series in mind, that any announcement will come later this week or early next.

    BTW, It should come as no surprise that the Dodgers were not a part of any discussions with Maddon.  After all, the team had stated emphatically that a managerial change was not being considered and that Don Mattingly would be our skipper for the immediate future. 

    When you also consider that relationships and maintaining good contacts within the upper echelons of the MLB is just as important as smarts, you come away with a better understanding that there was no way Maddon would be wearing Dodger Blue in 2015.

    After all, by all accounts Andrew Friedman left Tampa Bay on the best of terms, and he would likely want to continue a positive working relationship with his former bosses and colleagues.  So, muddying the waters by going after Joe, when everyone will suspect tampering (back-stabbing, if you will), would be an unnecessary stain on the start of his leadership as President of Baseball Operations.

    In other words, if he wants to succeed in his new position with the Dodgers by making certain on-field changes then he'll need not only the cooperation of folks within the franchise, but the help of other team executives to get things done.  If he burns his bridges with the Rays then it could potentially make it that much harder to find cooperative trade partners in the immediate future since his 'word' would be less trustworthy.

    That's just my two cents.

    UPDATE:  I think the below sentence from a story a couple of weeks ago by Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Topkin further emphasizes the point that Maddon was likely never approached by Friedman or the Dodgers.
    While principal owner Stuart Sternberg said no Rays baseball operations staffers would be joining the Dodgers, Friedman said that could change in time, but "I'm not looking to hurt the Tampa Bay Rays."

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    Weekend Autograph Opportunities: DODGERFEST!

    Here are this weekends autograph opportunities and events throughout the Southland. As always, be sure to check the Blue Heaven Calendar for other events (a link can always be found on the tab at the top of this page, just left of center), and always confirm with the establishment. Everything is subject to change.  Please email me with any tips about upcoming events in Southern California.  As the rest of the week progresses I'll update this post with other events (if there are any) as I become aware of them.  Also, I don't always list every event below, so be sure to check my Calendar.  I always try to favor free signing events over paying events.  Click on any pic to embiggen.


    This is the big Dodger signing event of the winter.  Frank & Sons in the City of Industry is hosting DODGERFEST this coming Saturday, and a whole bunch of former Dodger players will be there.  Check out the flyer below.  You can also go here or here for more information.  The first link for Hall of Fame sports includes prices and appearance times for all of the players.  Go here for that.  BTW, there are a handful of Baseball/sports card and memorabilia dealers at this show, so there is plenty to do. 

    If you do attend I suggest getting there very early.  Parking availability at this facility is horrible... Like really horrible... Like so bad it always makes me think twice about attending events there.
    Frank & Son Collectible Show
    19649 E. San Jose Ave.
    City of Industry, CA. 91748

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    Blog Kiosk: 10/29/2014 - Dodger Links - Howard for Hodges, Tommy Davis and GO ROYALS!

    Lexi knows what's up!  If she can do it twice, so can you.  This photo was shared on twitter by @MLBFanCave and came via @kc85wilson on twitter, and it's the greatest thing I've seen on twitter in a long time.  Go Royals Go!

    As you know Game 7 of the World Series is tonight, and if your not paying attention to it then you're missing out.  This is the kind of event all sports fans dream of.  After 162 game season, a wild card game, two playoff league series and six games in the finals we are down to just one more game.  It's THE final game of the year and I suspect both teams will leave everything they've got on the field. 

    Mike Oz at Big League Stew tells us about the "Seven of the most memorable World Series Game 7s in baseball history" that is definitely worth checking out before tonight's game.  If I had to choose the best of the seven I'd go with the Sandy Koufax's shutout against the Twins in the 1965 series - obviously. 

    Below are some more links to check out:
    “I tell everybody I was a Bible hitter,” Davis said. “When they say, ‘What does that mean, I’d say, ‘Thou shalt not pass. The first pitch is coming, I’m swinging.’”
    • Cary also tells us about the historical connections between the Dodgers and the Lakers/NBA.  I'm surprised to learn how many NBA players were once a part of the Dodger system.
    • Dodger owner/partner Peter Gruber shares a video on twitter that tells us a bit about the value of player analytics to the Dodgers:

    • Topps is now getting into limited edition apparel.  They are now offering a 1988 Dodgers 'Miracle Men' Orel Hershiser patch Baseball cap limited to just 99copies for $39.99.  Check it out here.  See a pic of it on the right.  Limited edition patch caps also exist for Reggie Jackson, Alan Trammel, Willie Stargell, Gary Carter, Rollie Fingers and Ryne Sandberg.
    • I've got mad respect for Blazer's Edge.  (Hat Tip via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA)
    • Via Joe Posnanski at NBC Sports, "Vanguard after the Revolution: Bill James sparked a baseball insurrection, but he has regrets about the world he wrought." 
    He groans whenever he hears people discount leadership or team chemistry or heart because they cannot find such things in the data. He has done this himself in the past … and regrets it.

    “I have to take my share of responsibility for promoting skepticism about things that I didn’t understand as well as I might have,” he says. “What I would say NOW is that skepticism should be directed at things that are actually untrue rather than things that are difficult to measure.

    “Leadership is one player having an effect on his teammates. There is nothing about that that should invite skepticism. People have an effect on one another in every area of life. … We all affect another’s work. You just can’t really measure that in an individual-accounting framework.”
    • BTW, for the third season in a row Anaheim Angels slugger Mike Trout won the 2014 Stan Musial Award from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  In the National League Clayton Kershaw won the award.  The Stan Musial Award recognizes the MVP in each league. I had picked Kershaw on my National League ballot.  Go here to see who were my picks for the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance) Post Season Awards.

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    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Take a Look at Some Vintage Dodger Goodies at Hake's Auctions

    Hunt's isn't the only auction house running a big auction right now.  Hake's Americana & Collectibles has just opened up their 213th major auction this week and it includes some great vintage Dodger memorabilia.  Here are some of my favorites.

    Below is a pinback you just don't see very often.  Here is a circa 1940's-50's Montreal Royals pin (designated PM10) complete with ribbons and a white celluloid ball charm.  As you know, the Royals were the Brooklyn Dodgers main farm club and the place where Jackie Robinson got his start within the Dodger franchise.
    (Auction Link)

    Speaking of Jackie Robinson, below is a vintage press photo, circa 1945, of him in a Kansas City Monarchs uniform.  This is an original Sporting News photograph. 
    (Auction Link)

    The below grouping of vintage photographs is absolutely incredible, and I would do almost anything to have a chance to get a closer look at them all.  This auction item includes 50 different 5"x7" original Brooklyn Superbas photographs from ”Spooner & Wells, Inc. Photographers” out of New York City.  They date from 1908 to 1910 and feature some great background shots of old stadiums; including the Dodgers old home at Washington Park II.

    Of all the photos they share in the auction listing I most fascinated with two photos showing a haphazardly-looking wooden fence in the background shown directly below.  Where could those photos possibly have been taken?  I would really love to know.
    (Auction Link)

    (Auction Link)

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